Will you know the Answer before Time runs Out?
"Strange is our situation here upon this earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not
knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose." - Albert Einstein
Are they coming or already here? Who would be the select few that would be saved? That’s the question many were asking – and investigating. Bugarach is a quaint little village tucked away in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France. It is at the base of Pic de Bugarach, the highest summit of the Corbières. Usually there are less than 200 people that populate this village where eagles soar and life has no rush hour, but at the end of 2012 it mushroomed to almost 100x that number. Many gathered to see and experience the collision of doom and awe. You see, on December 21, 2012 at 11:11 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time; informally synonymous with Greenwich Meridian Time) coincided with the beginning of baktun 13 of the Mayan calendar which many believed predicted a cataclysmic end to our world. That was the doom, but Bugarach, Bugarach was the awe. Pic de Bugarach had long been thought to harbor extraterrestrial life – just unsubstantiated. These aliens who had resided within the mountain all of these centuries were going to leave when the extinction event would occur. They would not just leave, however. These are benevolent aliens. Whoever would be there on Pic de Bugarach when baktun 13 arrived would be allowed to go with them. The human race would be preserved – just not on our current planet.
Now you can see why this tiny, quaint town was bursting at its seams on December 21, 2012. All of these people wanted to experience the awe and escape the doom. But what happened? Baktun 13 continued as if that was what it was supposed to do. And the aliens? They either remained underground knowing Baktun 13 was not a sign or they were never resident in the first place.
But this is not the first time that mankind has been infatuated with the stars and how they play a part in our existence. We have often marveled at them being there and wondering if they mean something for us, or about us.
You’ve been there, haven’t you?
You’re outside on a cloudless summer night. You’re well away from the city lights and able to be on an open hillside where you lie on your back and look at the stars. With the cool grass on your back, your arms folded under your head, you relax and just stare at the sky above. As you lie there and gaze into the night sky it begins to dawn upon you just how many stars there are up there. Some look relatively large and bright, like tiny crystals twinkling and winking at you. Others are dim and just barely visible. If you stare too long at those, they tend to disappear. The longer you look, the more you see. They actually seem to multiply the longer you lie there and keep looking. The sheer number of them! Wow, how beautiful! The sight is truly amazing. But there is another question that begins to form: Why? Why are there so many stars? Why: the question that plagues so many parents with small children. Why is the grass green? Why do I have 10 fingers and 10 toes? Why is the sky blue? Why is there a rainbow? Why do I get hungry? Why do I hate green broccoli but love green M&Ms? Why are there so many stars?
You supply answers but your answers are encyclopedic. Your answers appease – at least for awhile. Yet, you realize you have some of the same questions. An encyclopedia does not give you the answers for which you seek. Yes, you can understand the academic reasons and rationales for why things are as they are but this does not answer the deep, nagging question of why. Why? Yes, why arethere so many stars? Why am I on a planet among billions? Why am I here? Really, why? Are there real answers? Do I have real significance?
But you know that this is only half of your “why.” Others have observed these same stars and came to certain conclusions. Many civilizations have been awed by the stars and felt there was something mystic about them. An extraterrestrial display of such inspiring beauty has to mean something, right? Several
civilizations have felt the stars were prophetic in nature and can even forecast meaning to our lives here on the earth and can even foretell the end to life as we know it. The Mayans predicted that the earth would end on December 21, 2012. Yet, that did not happen. Why did so many feel they were correct? What insights
did the Mayans have that were so prophetic yet so incorrect? But the Mayans were not the only ones with incorrect predictions. Many others have predicted the end of the world and they, too, were incorrect. Many believe in the predictions of Nostradamus. Yet his predictions are only discovered after the fact – after an
event occurs then someone will realize that a vague prediction points to the event that has occurred. But why can’t these be known ahead of time? Can they? Why do so many feel they are asking the right question and have the correct answer only to be shown by time itself they were wrong? Have we been asking the wrong question? Is there a right question to ask?
Well, if you look at the Bible... What? What did you say? Look at the Bible? That’s where you’re going to go? I want answers, not myths. So, why do you think the Bible is full of myths? Have you really investigated? It actually has a purpose? Seriously? There is a cohesive, understandable purpose? It’s there for the inquiring mind. So, if it’s not just a collection of stories, what is the purpose of the Bible? Do you want just an answer or are you really ready for the secret of the Bible? There’s a secret? I like secrets. Tell me. It’s about a timeline. What? That’s the secret? It doesn’t sound like much of a secret, but it is a little intriguing. Is it important? It’s important, very important because if there is a timeline it then implies a plan. Is there a plan revealed? What is that plan revealing? Is it about us - or about whom? Can we really understand it? If we look closely, I think we will see that the story has gotten miss communicated even though it is really quite clear.
Clear? It seems rather confusing and disjointed. Well, let’s try and simplify. In spite of all human diversity, the Bible categorizes us into two groups of humanity: Jews and Gentiles. Well, I guess that does help me know into which category I stand. But why is that important? It is important because there is only one timeline. But aren’t we all on the same timeline? After all, we all are born, live, and die. No, that is a life line and I am talking about a timeline - a Jewish timeline. But, there are way more Gentiles than Jews in the world, so it would make sense to have a timeline that is for the majority, wouldn’t it? Well, it would if we were designing the timeline. However, the Bible states it is a Jewish timeline. OK, I’ll bite. Why do I live in a Gentile world on a Jewish timeline?
Well, let’s start trying to put this together. Are you ready for an adventure?
I think the purpose of the Bible is the same purpose of any book - it is to communicate. Yes, I know, it communicates the “Good News,” right? Well, yes, it communicates that but does more than that; it also presents, like any good novel, the background, the players, how things go awry and a wonderful happy ending. Really? The Bible is like a good mystery novel? Oh, yes. There is intrigue, mystery, subterfuge, misdirection, and a hero who saves the day!
OK, so we have a good plot, but is that all it is? Well, if that is all it is, then it could certainly read better, couldn’t it? So, yes, it is more, much more, and contains the reason why it is different than any other book.
So, who is the main character? Ever read a novel when you just kept meeting character after character and they all get intertwined and before long you are asking yourself, “What is the author doing here?” However, clever authors have you meet the main character early but it is not clear it was the main character until they save the day or do something heroic and then you say,“Aha, he is the one!” Then, all of the ‘mundane’ things the author brought up now all seem to make sense. Ah, you say you didn’t know the Bible was one of those clever books? Well, it is more than clever; it is quite ingenious.
Have you met the main character? Many think they have and many think they have it all figured out. However, not knowing the main character messes up the interpretation and doesn’t make all of the pieces fit together. It is like we mentioned before - all those mundane topics in the book remain mundane and out of place until you know the main character.
Many have followed the subterfuge and never met the main character. Oh, they think they have and they live like they have, but if they are honest with themselves, they still have questions about those mundane things they have read but they try to ignore them because they just don’t seem to fit. Deep down, it does bother them, but they are not going to admit it.
Remember what we said about a good novel? The main character is met early and then a lot of stuff happens that misdirects the reader until something happens to really reveal the main character as the main character. Well, it is also true of the Bible. Who do you meet first? It is in the very first verse of the Bible: In the beginning God... (Gn 1:1). Really? God is the main character? Many people think they meet the main character every morning in the mirror. After all, they really live like they are the main character. We are told that from the time we are little and even everyday on the television: e.g., “You deserve a break today”, “Have it your way”, “You’re worth it”, “You only live once.” Therefore, we grow up thinking this is the truth, and since the Bible is supposed to be about truth, this must be what the Bible says, right? Well, let’s not get lost in the subterfuge. But wait, you may say, the Bible says God is love and this is why He made us and, as a Christian, I believe God sent His son to die for me. Oh, yes, both Christians and non-Christians can get lost in the same misdirection.
So let’s look at this slightly differently. As stated above, the main character, God, is introduced early. And, yes, there is a lot of stuff that seems “jumbled” until we come to God again. Then, we have more ‘stuff’ and then God in the end. It will always remain ‘stuff’ whether you are a Christian or not until we really see the main character as really being the main character.
So, if God is the main character, then why did he create mankind in the first place? Well, it certainly wasn’t because He was lonely. He is Trinity after all. Our Jewish friends may argue this point, but think about it. Elohim - a name for God that is presented here is plural in form but used with a singular verb.[i] Isn’t that clever? Don’t we expect God to be clever? Of course we do! Oh, come on, you say. Three-in-one? Isn’t that just -- out there? Well, yes it is. That is where I would want my God to be. He should be someone different, unique, like no other. Don’t you want a God like that? Well, there He is. He, God, the main character, is presented to us in the first verse of the Bible - someone unique - Elohim. Ah, yes, the main character is introduced as a character of mystery, intriguing. The scene quickly changes, but we have been introduced. We, just like in a good mystery, long to see this character again. How will He be revealed again? What further mystery unfolds?
So, if He doesn’t need us, why are we here? Well, as we keep getting introduced to God, we keep learning more about Him. One-dimensional He is definitely not! He has many attributes which are unfolded to us throughout the Bible. Creativity seems to be high on the list. OK, you say, I get the plants and animal bit because I like those too. Who doesn’t like to have, and even show off, their green thumb? But why humans? We learn something else about God - He likes to experience our praise. He created us to glorify Him? But isn’t that vain, you say? For any created being, the answer would be ‘yes.’ But God is unique. And, if you really think about it, we all give our allegiance (our praise) to something. Better to the most unique being beyond the universe (and in our universe - He is omnipresent, you know) than to some person, place, or thing. Besides, God knows that. He made us that way. But, He does not force this. He knows that forced praise or obedience is really not those things after all - they are then vain and hollow. Think about it. If your children, your wife, or your husband loved you because you could make them do so, would that fulfill you? No, the joy of that relationship comes from us knowing that they could love anyone, but they chose to love us.
However, the reciprocal is not the same. God does not love us back because we love Him. He loves us even when, or before, we choose to love Him (Ro 5:10). He is unique; He is love. Therefore, He can’t not love us because love is part of His character, and His character does not change (Ml 3:6). Does that cheapen the love? No way! His love is pure - a model for us to follow. He could neither love us more, nor could He love us less. This does change our perspective, however. It shows it is not about us, but about Him. Our glory, our love, for Him comes because of who He is. Our purpose is to reflect back to him our love and glorify Him because of the perfect love He has extended to us.
And, by the way, that is the reason for God sending His Son to take on the sins of the world - because of that perfect love: it could not have been done any other way and to any less degree than perfect. He did not die for us because of who we are but because of who He is! Doesn’t that change your perception? Who’s the hero? God. Do you see why He is the main character? He is the author of the Good News and the main character of its preparation, execution, and presentation. It’s all Him baby!
Beginning to like this main character, our unique, yet mysterious, hero?
So how do we go from the introduction of our main character to the topic of Jew and Gentiles and timelines? Well, we will have to save the answer to that question for a little while longer.
[i]R. Laird Harrris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) (Chicago: The Mood Bible Institute, 1980), 93c.